NATO a security of Central Europe in 21st century.
Speech at the conference organized by Civic Institute
23.4.1999 Trojský zámek
There can be no doubt that so far the greatest, longest and most systematic onslaught against Western civilisation was undertaken by Communism. I say Communism and not merely „Soviet Union“ or Evil Empire, because using these words might obscure the real nature of the threat. In fact, during all the long decades of the Cold War there were many influential people in the West who never understood the nature of the threat. Some of them always thought that it was more or less a classical conflict between a group of western countries on one side and a great empire with expansionist designs on the other side. Some of them spoke about Soviet national interests and security concerns and about need to find ways of how accommodate these interests and concerns. And some even maintained that incessant Soviet bellicosity was caused by Soviet Union´s fears and suspicions of the West and that – consequently – the bellicosity would diseappear once the West makes this or that concession.
How far were they from reality. In fact the Communist Empire was built upon a foundation utterly remote from classical idea of nation state. Its foundation was an ideology which posited that the world is a battlefield between the forces of light (Progress, Scientific Communism, Working Class, the Communist Party,etc) and the forces of darkness to which belonged everybody or everything which was not one with what Communist Empire did. The fact that enormous crimes were committed in the name of this ideology made the bond between it and the rulers of the Communist Empire still more ironclad because they knew any small doubt about the validity of the ideology would make the blood spilled crying to heaven and undermine fatally the legitimacy of the whole undertaking. But maintaining the Manichean communist ideology as the foundation of the Communist Empire inevitably led to inherent impossibility for this Empire to make peace or compromise with anything which was not under Communist control because any such peace would entail an admission that the Manichean division of the world into two irreconcilable camps was not correct. But such admission would again automatically cast doubt on the legitimacy of Communist power. Therefore the Communist Empire was bound to incessantly conspire, subvert, bully or attack everybody and everything which refused to become integral part of its power. Futher, no member of the ruling elite could raise his voice against any of its policies because he would be seen as undermining the legitimacy of the system. At the same time the rulers of the Empire knew that they had little chance to prevail if the true nature of its innermost dynamics would became clear to too many people in the West. They thus spared no effort and spent fortunes to produce a smokescreen hiding this infernal dynamics. And sadly again, there were many a smokestack in the West adding more fumes to the smokescreen. Western governments had thus to convince their people of the need to spend much money on defence in conditions of constant battle against Soviet propaganda mightily supported by the fifth columns and duped people at home. For long time the West had been in no-win situation. One mistake on your side – or one good luck on enemy´s side – and you lose, whereas the enemy´s mistake never leads to your victory. No surprise they were many doomsayers, many Chamberlains in the West.
Fortunately, and hidden from the eyes of most „Kremlinologists“ there were three things which heralded the Soviet defeat:
1. The totalitarian regime was thwarting modern types of economic development which gathered speed in market economies. This was bound – sooner or later – to sap technological level of Communist armies.
2. Appearance of dissident movements and their persecutions blew away the smokescreen of lies. Despite their miniscule size (Solidarnoszc excepting), theyt put paid to the myth that longing for individual freedom is irrelevant for people living in collectivist paradise and offered proof of the universal nature of human rights. And the persecutions of dissidents revealed the ugly face of the Empire.
3. And most importantly, the hard-line approach to Communist Empire taken by President Reagan, who grasped the true nature of the East-West conflict, turned the tide. What exactly was it which achieved that. It was not the famous rhetoric about Evil Empire which was no doubt important boost to the morale of the West and the dissidents. It was not the rise of defence budget and Star Wars programme, crucial as they undoubtedly were.
No, the reason why hard-line approach spelled doom for Communist Empire was that it opened way for would-be reformers within the system. Until then, no member of the Communist elite could challege its policies by pointing out its inhumanity or immorality. Human rights, morality, truth – these were words totally banned in the internal councils of the regime. They were seen as either meaningless concepts or concepts utterly alien to Communist ideology. However, there always was one argument which could theoretically be used in these councils without automatically leading to the destruction of the speaker. It run as follows: “Comrades, our Holy Cause, our fight for progress and peace is in danger. The forces of reaction (imperialists, war-mongers, etc.) are becoming stronger! We must discuss the ways of how to make our system stronger!”
But there had to be an enemy who really was becoming stronger in the first place to make that argument safe to use! And this condition was fulfilled only after the election of President Reagan and after military and ideological build-up of the West took place.
But once the argument was made, a crack in the hitheto impenetrable wall of lies opened. What followed is history.